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What to Watch in the Lame-Duck Congress

by Countable | 11.12.18

Congress will kickoff its lame-duck session this Tuesday, with members who are retiring or were recently defeated head back to the Capitol to deal with major policy issues in the remaining weeks before the 116th Congress is seated in January. Here’s a look at some of what the lame-duck session may have in store:

Government Funding

While lawmakers provided appropriations for about 70% of the federal budget ($855 billion) before they hit the campaign trail, they have until December 7th to fund the remainder to avoid a partial government shutdown ― which will feature a fight over funding for border security.

Neither chamber has taken up FY2019 funding for Homeland Security, which would include funding for the president’s plan for a border wall system. The House’s bill contains $5 billion in funding, while the Senate version would provide $1.8 billion for FY2019. Along with Homeland Security, both the State and Foreign Operations spending bill and the Commerce, Justice, and Science package will need to be approved.

Both chambers will also need to iron out differences between their respective versions of the $154 billion “minibus” that includes funding for four of the 12 appropriations bills: Interior & Environment; Financial Services & General Gov’t; Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development; and Agriculture.

The threat of a lapse in funding could lead to the passage of one (or more) short-term stopgap funding bills, or the third federal government shutdown of 2018 will ensue.

Farm Bill

The conference committee working to forge a compromise between the versions of the Farm Bill that passed the House and Senate will have until the end of the year to reach an agreement that can pass both chambers.

The House version of the bill passed includes a requirement that able-bodied adults work or participate in job training for at least 20 hours per week to receive food stamps under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The Senate bill doesn’t go that far and instead allows states to design their own employment and training programs that meet local needs.

If a compromise proves elusive, lawmakers will likely approve a one-year extension to allow the new Congress to resume negotiations.

Other Business

The 115th Congress will have other business to attend to between now and when they gavel-out for the final time, including the annual year-end extension of expiring provisions in the tax code and a reauthorization of the Coast Guard, which the Senate will take up this week.

Another thing to watch: how long lawmakers stay in session. Ordinarily, members of Congress who won’t be returning are eager to end the lame-duck session as early as possible as they turn toward their new career (and those will be coming back want a holiday season reprieve from politics). But with Democrats set to be the majority when the new House convenes in 2019, their GOP colleagues could be spurred to spend as much of their remaining time as possible legislating in the Capitol.

Why do they call it a “lame-duck”?

The expression was first used in 18th century Britain to describe bankrupt businessmen, who because their powers their powers were impaired, were likened to wounded birds. The term’s usage then grew beyond that to include politicians whose time remaining in office is limited.

In U.S. politics, it’s applied to any session of Congress that follows an federal election and any sitting lawmaker who won’t be returning in the new Congress (including through retirement). Similarly, a president is considered a lame-duck while serving out the remainder of their term, either after an electoral defeat or when term-limited.

What do you want Congress to do in the lame-duck session? Tell your reps and share your thoughts below!


— Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: iStock.com / uschools)

Countable

Written by Countable

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(53)
  • Steve
    Voted Apathetic
    11/13/2018
    ···

    Annul the Trump administration. Repeal the "tax cut". Reinstate net neutrality. Protect the environment. Everything the Republicans have touched has gone to hell.

    Like (72)
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  • John
    Voted Sad
    11/13/2018
    ···

    Do not allow the Repugnacants to do more damage to the country.!

    Like (33)
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  • Frank
    11/13/2018
    ···

    Impeach the fascist dictator who has alienated every country on earth

    Like (26)
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  • David
    Voted Happy
    11/13/2018
    ···

    How about posting comments that indicate we can conduct ourselves like grownups?

    Like (7)
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  • UnionTim
    Voted Apathetic
    11/13/2018
    ···

    Protect the Mueller investigation at all cost.

    Like (50)
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  • KansasTamale
    Voted Sad
    11/13/2018
    ···

    This Lame Duck session of Congress need to NOT DO ANYTHING TO MESS WITH THE RUSSIA INVESTIGATION. Let Meuller finish & finish his report. REALLY WE WANT YOJ TO STOP TRUMP FROM WASTING OUR MONEY ON HIM & HIS FAMILY & CAN YOU MAKE HIM ACT LIKE A PERSON WHO CARES ABOUT THE COUNTRY ??

    Like (21)
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  • John
    11/13/2018
    ···

    45 in the lame Duck! He doesn’t want the Military members voting by mail in vote to be counted! What did 45 or Vice Present do for us Veterans this year! Nothing!

    Like (10)
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  • Joseph
    Voted Happy
    11/13/2018
    ···

    Requiring able bodied adults to attend 20 hrs of job training per week should have always been a requirement for food stamps.

    Like (3)
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  • Chris
    Voted Sad
    11/13/2018
    ···

    I want my reps to remove the language requiring work for food stamp recipients. This goes against what we as Americans stand for! I pay my taxes so people in America don’t starve!

    Like (14)
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  • Dara
    Voted Apathetic
    11/13/2018
    ···

    They can start by fully funding the government, supporting FAMILY farms, not corporate farmers, and determining why the reimposed Iranian sanctions EXCLUDED corporate oil? Talk about SWAMP! trump’s policies are the worst kind of SWAMP.

    Like (12)
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  • Ann
    Voted Sad
    11/13/2018
    ···

    They should do nothing in the House but pass an extension of financing. Let the new Reps decide what’s best!!

    Like (12)
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  • Thelma
    Voted Apathetic
    11/13/2018
    ···

    1. Protect the Mueller investigation 2. Stop making work a requirement for social safety net support. This is sickening. Give work AND support, don’t make work a requirement. There aren’t enough jobs available, so those who can’t find work will also be out of food, medical care, etc. This is disgusting. 3. Stop climate change. Regulate until we are out of danger. It’s the only way to protect our world. 4. Stop the mass murder of Americans from gun violence. Regulate guns until this is just a horrible memory. Americans are depressed because of this, and for good reason. The second amendment wasn’t a promo for the gun lobby. STOP THIS VIOLENCE.

    Like (10)
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  • Anne
    11/13/2018
    ···

    Leave Social Security and Medicare alone. I already lost my supplemental cost program for a new one I will have to pay too much more for. If Social Security is privatized or lowered I will have no income, as tRump has mostly decimated my IRA. Also they need to secure Mueller’s investigation because now that we have an unqualified and biased AG who knows what can happen. I am so tired of this nightmare.

    Like (7)
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  • Kari
    11/13/2018
    ···

    Good for who, Steve? My family has never struggled so much.

    Like (4)
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  • Matt
    Voted Sad
    11/13/2018
    ···

    job training for food stamps is misguided. just pay living wages to working people. I'm trained in many occupations,but it has,n't helped get me out of poverty.

    Like (4)
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  • Michael
    11/13/2018
    ···

    Aaaaahhhh! Since when are tax cuts a bad thing? Let me guess, you want to give up more of your money? Well, you can send a check at the following address. 46938 Crazy Street WowWee, Kalifornia. 12345

    Like (4)
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  • M
    Voted Apathetic
    11/13/2018
    ···

    $675 billion for defense, and roughly $350 billion for everything else, is that about right? Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. And most of that defense money goes to protect our soldiers, get good intel, etc, right? Wait, how much were those coffee mugs? $1,200? Why that’s more than what most people got in a year with the big tax cut! It makes a thinking person think — or at least it should. https://news.sky.com/story/us-air-force-halts-orders-of-1200-coffee-cups-after-criticism-of-reckless-spending-11534960

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  • Ochoninja
    Voted Sad
    11/13/2018
    ···

    They have been deplorable allowing Trump to do illegal actions and not confronting him

    Like (3)
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  • MelissaN
    Voted Apathetic
    11/13/2018
    ···

    People over party, stop taking money to screw your country. Do your job, be a strong stand up person, fight for people even if some of you your days are numbered.

    Like (2)
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  • Chris
    Voted Sad
    11/13/2018
    ···

    I want a congressional work requirement before i buy your post it notes let give you a pay check if you are making poor starving people work off their food debt to society. If you vote for this you will never get my vote again. This is a red line!

    Like (2)
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